my soul is wrought to sing of forms transformed
to bodies new and strange! immortal goddess
inspire my heart, for you have changed yourselves
and all things you have changed! oh lead my divine song
in smooth and measured strains, from olden days
when earth began to this completed time!
all men work to maintain the things that they have
a price is paid for every pleasure enjoyed
before the ocean and the earth appeared
before the skies had overspread them all
the face of nature in a vast expanse
was naught but chaos uniformly waste
it was a rude and undeveloped mass
that nothing made except a ponderous weight
and all discordant elements confused
were there congested in a shapeless heap
as yet the sun afforded earth no light
nor did the moon renew her crescent horns
the earth was not suspended in the air
exactly balanced by her heavy weight
not far along the margin of the shores
had amphitrite stretched her lengthened arms
for all the land was mixed with sea and air
the land was soft the sea unfit to sail
the atmosphere opaque, to naught was given
a proper form, in everything was strife,
and all was mingled in a seething mass-
with hot the cold parts strove, and wet with dry
and soft with hard, and weight with empty void.
but goddess, or kindly nature, ended strife-
she cut the land from skies, the sea from land,
the heavens ethereal from material air;
and when were all evolved from that dark mass
she bound the fractious parts in tranquil peace.
the fiery element of convex heaven,
leaped from the mass devoid of holding weight,
and chose the summit arch to which the air
as next in quality was next in place
and so nature all things obeyed.
the earth more dense attracted grosser parts
and moved by gravity sank underneath;
what you are seeking will be before your feet
the mind’s capacity is determined by the body’s ability
and last of all the wide surrounding waves
in deeper channels rolled around the earth
and when this goddess, which one yet is unknown,
had carved asunder that discordant mass,
had thus reduced it to its elements,
that every part should equally combine,
when time began she round out the earth’s arch
and moulded it to form a mighty firmament.
then she poured forth the deeps and gave command
that they should billow in the rapid winds,
that they should encompass every shore of earth.
she also added fountains, pools and lakes,
and bound with shelving banks the slanting streams,
which partly are absorbed and partly join
the boundless ocean. thus received amid
the wide expanse of uncontrolled waves,
they beat the shores instead of crooked banks.
at her command the boundless plains extend,
the valleys are depressed, the woods are clothed
in green, the stony mountains rise. and as
the heavens are intersected on the right
by two broad zones, by two that cut the left
and by a fifth consumed with ardent heat,
with such a number did the careful goddess,
mark off the compassed weight, and thus the earth
receives as many climes. such heat consumes
the middle zone that none may dwell therein;
and two extremes are covered with deep snow;
and two are placed betwixt the hot and cold,
which mixed together give a temperate clime;
and over all the atmosphere suspends
with weight proportioned to the fiery sky,
exactly as the weight of the earth compares
with weight of water.
and thus water consumes all things.
all in nature is immortal,
do not fear abundance.